2 Corinthians


2. Paul defends his integrity, 1:8-2:13

iv] The limits to discipline, 2:5-11


It seems likely that the Corinthian believers have broken fellowship with an erring brother, as instructed by Paul in his harsh / severe letter to them. The point of such action, of excommunication, of handing a brother other to Satan, is not that they stay with Satan, but that they repent and be reconciled to their brothers and sisters in Christ. Presumably this erring brother has repented and so Paul encourages the congregation to forgive, comfort and love him. The congregation has passed their test, obeying Paul's instruction concerning this man, and now he asks them to obey him again, this time to forgive him as Paul has forgiven him.


i] Context: See 1:8-11.


ii] Background: See 1:1-7.


iii] Structure: The limits to discipline:

The grief caused by the offender, v5;

The Corinthians are exhorted to encourage the offender, v6-8;

Another reason for the harsh / severe letter, v9;

Let there be forgiveness for the reconciliation of all so that Satan doesn't get his way, v10-11.


iv] Interpretation:

It is clear that the arrival of the severe / harsh letter (probably 1 Corinthians, but some commentators argue that it is a lost letter penned by Paul between I and 2 Corinthians, possibly now preserved in the concluding chapters of 2 Corinthians), instead of the arrival of Paul, has prompted some negative sentiment toward him in Corinth - probably stirred up by members of the circumcision party. The letter itself has caused some controversy, cf., 10:9-11. A particular element of that controversy centers on tiV, "someone / certain man", and his behavior in the Corinthian congregation which has grieved, not only Paul, but in some measure, all members. In confronting this issue in the letter, Paul was really concerned whether his instructions would be acted on, but now he has heard from Titus that the church has acted on his instructions and dealt with the man. So, at this point in his letter, Paul states that the punishment is sufficient and that the congregation is now to forgive, comfort and love him, lest he be consumed with grief. Paul has forgiven the man, and the congregation must do likewise. To not do so can only be a win for Satan.

As for the identity of the "someone / certain man", he is often identified with the incestuous man of 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 13, so Naylor. This would seem likely, if the severe / harsh letter is 1 Corinthians. Yet, he could be anyone who has confronted Paul, possibly at the time of his painful visit. Barrett suggests he is someone who has insulted Paul and called his authority into question. Thrall argues (from very scant evidence!!) that the man has misappropriated money intended for the collection for the saints in Jerusalem in an affront to Paul. Furnish argues that the man is someone who has opposed Paul and slandered him. Anyway, Paul doesn't name names so the best we can say is that he is probably one of Paul's opponents, so Guthrie. In fact, as Martin notes from the personal nature of v10, "Paul himself was the object of this man's outburst", cf., v10.

Again, in the passage before us, Paul gives us a further reason for the writing of the severe / harsh letter. Paul wrote that the Corinthians might "prove" their obedience.

Text - 2:5

The limits of discipline, v5-11: i] The grief caused by the offender, v5.

de "-" - but, and. Transitional, indicating the next step in the argument.

ei + ind. "if" - if, [as is the case, a certain man has caused grief, then he has not just / only grieved me]. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the condition is assumed to be true. The use of "if" in English, to some degree implies that the condition is unreal, but a 1st. class condition is real, so expressed by REB, ... "The injury done to me by our friend has not just been done to me, but to some extent to you as well."

tiV pro. "anyone" - a certain person. The pronoun serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to cause grief, pain." As is typical, Paul tends not to name-and-shame his opponents, he tends to make an oblique reference to them, and so here we have a certain individual who has opposed Paul.

leluphken (lupew) perf. "has caused grief" - has caused grief, distress, pain, sorrow. If we give weight to the perfect tense, then the problem has lingering consequences. If the offender is the incestuous man referred to in 1 Corinthians then the consequences of his illicit relationships will naturally continue to affect the congregation. If, as seems more likely, that this person is an opponent of Paul (Paul was grieved, but the congregation only "to some extent"), then although the blow-up has been healed and Paul calls for the reconciliation of all, the problem between the two men remains (as it always does - unless the Holy Spirit intervenes!!!). If the offender is a Judaizer then the theological differences between him and Paul will cause ongoing tension.

mh "not so much" - It is generally assumed that Paul is not using the negation here in absolute terms, but rather in a relative sense; "not just / not only / not so much / not primarily", so Harris.

apo merouV "to some extent" - [but] from / in part [he has grieved you all]. The preposition apo + the noun merouV, is adverbial, "partially". Note the AV, "he has grieved not only me", a translation that is possible, but not followed today. So, Paul was hurt, and the congregation was hurt indirectly.

iJna mh "not to [put it too severely]" - that not / lest [i be too severe]. Possibly introducing a negated final clause expressing purpose, "in order not to make a big issue of it", although it seems more likely to be epexegetic, specifying what Paul means by apo merouV, "in part." "I say to some extent because I don't want to exaggerate the damage done by our friend." Paul doesn't want to labor the issue, but the facts are the facts, the offender did cause Paul harm, and indirectly harmed the congregation, but he has repented and reconciliation / restitution is now the appropriate course.


ii] The Corinthians are exhorted to encourage the offender, v6-8. "In the following three verses, Paul declares that the punishment that has been carried out by the church has been enough to accomplish its goal of bringing about repentance and that it is now time to offer forgiveness, comfort and a reaffirmation of love to the offender", Guthrie.

hJ "[inflicted]" - [sufficient to such is this punishment] which [was applied by the many]. The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase "by the many" into an adjectival clause, attributive, limiting the noun "punishment".

tw/ toioutw/ "on him" - to such. This qualitative pronoun serves as a substantive, with the dative being adverbial, reference / respect, "sufficient with respect to such a one", or spacial / metaphorical, "on such a one"; "I think the punishment you have inflicted on him has been sufficient", Phillips.

uJpo + gen. "by" - Expressing agency.

twn pleionwn comp. adj. "the majority" - the many more. The adjective serves as a substantive, comparative, "the most" of twn poluV, "the many"; "by the majority of church members", TH.


Paul instructs them to undertake "a course of action opposite to what has recently been pursued. The Corinthians are to forgive and comfort the man; otherwise he will be consumed by grief", Barnett.

wJste + inf. "-" - so that [on the contrary rather you aught to forgive and to encourage him]. This construction introduces a consecutive clause, expressing result; "with the result that."

tounantion "instead" - on the contrary. Contrastive; to enantion, article + prep = adv., "on the other hand."

mallon "-" - rather. Comparative; "so that, on the other hand, rather than continuing to inflict punishment on him you aught to forgive and encourage him."

mh pwV + subj. "so that [he will] not" - that not / lest [such a one be swallowed up / overwhelmed by excessive grief]. This construction, pwV / oJpwV + subj. forms a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that", here negated, so "lest by any means such a one ...", Plummer; "otherwise", Barnett. The particle pwV intrudes manner and the subjunctive intrudes deliberation, so "lest perhaps / lest it happen that this person be overwhelmed by excessive pain", Harris. Moulton argues that mh here carries prohibitive force, which force is often carried in the positive element of a translation, as NIV; "so you should rather turn to forgive him and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow", ESV.

toioutoV pro. "he" - such a one. Again an indirect reference to the offender; "such a person."

luph/ (h) dat. "by [excessive] sorrow" - [may be swallowed up / overwhelmed] by [more excessive] grief, pain. The dative is instrumental, expressing means; "by means of .." The adjective perissoV, "excessive, extreme", takes the comparative form, "more excessive." "To be completely overwhelmed by remorse", Phillips.


"My counsel now is to pour on the love", Peterson. If, for instance, this person is the licentious liver of 1 Corinthians, his actions are initially accepted by the congregation, then, following the instructions in 1 Corinthians, he is handed over to Satan / excommunicated, but now, given that he has repented, he is to be fully reinstated into the life of the congregation.

dio "therefore" - therefore [i exhort / urge you]. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

kurwsai (kurow) aor. inf. "to reaffirm" - to ratify, confirm [your love to him]. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Paul urges the Corinthians to do.

eiV + acc. "for him" - to him. Here the preposition expresses advantage, "for him"; "you should make them sure of your love for them", CEV.


iii] Another reason for the severe / harsh letter, v9. Added to the reasons already supplied, Paul notes that another reason for the letter (1 Corinthians??) lay in his desire to see whether the congregation still accepted his apostolic authority. This authority is "in everything", ie., it also applies to his instruction give in v6-8.

gar "[another reason]" - for [indeed to this purpose i wrote to you]. Here expressing reason / serving an explanatory end, introducing a statement of purpose, eiV touto, "to this purpose", along with an emphatic kai, "indeed"; "I want to make the point that I wrote to you with this purpose in mind, namely, to see if ....."

iJna + subj. "was to see" - that [i may know the character / proof of you]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose.

ei + ind. "if" - Here introducing an indefinite adverbial clause; "whether you are obedient in everything", ESV.

eiV + acc. "in [everything]" - to, into [all things you are obedient]. Here adverbial, reference / respect, "with respect to all things", or modal, expressing manner, "in all respects" = "completely obedient."


iv] Let there be forgiveness for the reconciliation of all so that Satan doesn't get his way, v10-11. Paul encourages the Corinthian believers to give themselves to the fallen brother, to graciously forgive him, as Paul has forgiven him.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating the next step in the argument.

w| "-" - to whom [you forgive anything i also forgive]. Dative of indirect object. We have here a hanging pendens construction picked up in the assumed clause introduced by the emphatic kagw, "and I"; "and I also forgive that person for what they have done." "If you forgive him, I forgive him", Peterson.

gar "-" - for [indeed]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul forgives tiV, "the certain one", along with the Corinthians, because in his relationship with Christ he acts for their good.

o} "what" - Singular neuter = the offensive act.

kecarismai (karizomai) perf. "I have forgiven" - [i] i have forgiven. The perfect indicates that Paul has forgiven the certain person, which state of forgiveness continues. The word carries the sense "to grant favor" and may well be chosen by Paul to indicate that the sin has received the undeserved favor of forgiveness.

ei + ind. "if " - if [anything i have forgiven]. Here serving to introduce a simple conditional indefinite parenthetical clause; "insofar as I have something to forgive." Is Martin right when he translates this parenthesis "if indeed there was anything to forgive"? Given the context, the sin was serious and did need to be forgiven. Harris suggests that it expresses "dismissiveness born of pastoral tact"; Guthrie argues it expresses "pastoral sensitivity"; Barnett suggests the wording simply reflects Paul's desire not to "overstate the case." Some add "personally", ie., the sin was not against Paul; "insofar as I had anything personally to forgive", Phillips. Yet, it seems there is a good chance that the o}, "what" = "offensive act", was against Paul personally.

en + dat. "I have forgiven in [the sight]" - [it is for the sake of you have forgiven it] in [the face of christ]. Spacial / idiomatic. Standing "in face of" = "in the sight of" = "in the presence of" = "before the person of." Often just the preposition enwpion + gen., "before", expressing the idea of acting in a way expected by Christ / under his gaze; "as I stand accountable in the presence of God in Christ."

di (dia) + acc. "for your sake" - Here expressing benefit; "for the sake of."


Paul finalizes his argument for the forgiveness of the offender by providing another reason why he should be forgiven, namely, so that Satan might not "get the upper hand", Barnett.

iJna mh + subj. "in order that [Satan might] not [outwit us]" - lest [we may be taken advantage of by satan]. Introducing a negated purpose clause, "in order that not" = "lest", but also possibly consecutive, expressing result / hypothetical result; "so that we are not outwitted by Satan", ESV. Yet, the technical syntax doesn't actually express the discourse logic of Paul's argument. Paul is presenting another reason for the forgiveness of "the certain man", the offender. In 2:7 the reason was mh pwV, "lest [such a one be overwhelmed by excessive grief]", and here it is iJna mh, "lest [we be taken advantage of by Satan]. Translators overcome the difficulty of "the reason is so that Satan may not ..." by expressing this verse in the terms of cause / reason; "for we must not let Satan get the better of us", Barclay, so also REB, Phillips, ... Forgiveness outwits Satan's plans to undermine the ground of a believer's salvation. Forced disengagement from the loving support of fellow believers may well assist Satan's designs.

uJpo + gen. "-" - by [satan]. Expressing agency.

gar "for" - for [we are not ignorant of his designs]. More reason than cause, such that the presence of "for" in a translation is somewhat confusing. Paul is adding an explanatory observation, that when it comes to Satan's schemes, "we" (Paul, Corinthians - both??) know what he's up to. "We don't want Satan to win any victory here, and well we know his methods!", Phillips.


2 Corinthians Introduction


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